It feels like the end of an era.
Our living space has been changed irreversibly. All that’s left of the iconic vista in the banner of this blog is… the photograph.
Guido and the crew spent last week demolishing the summer kitchen and the outhouse. This is what it looked like when I saw it on Friday morning. It’s all the more daunting when you realise that among the things that are no longer there are the house’s only toilet, bathroom and water heater!
This is probably the most challenging phase of the work for my two dear sisters. While I am sitting pretty in the comfort of my Brussels home, Ria and Chris have bravely entrenched themselves in the three rooms of the ground floor in the main house, whence they sally forth to the ecoloo at the bottom of the veggie garden at all times and in all weathers. And they have to snatch showers wherever and whenever the opportunity presents itself… All this, and never a word of complaint! They deserve a medal – all the more so because we don’t yet know quite when the situation is going to change!
Martin is busy ordering the materials we’ll need to finish of the attic – insulation materials for the outer brick walls, the inner walls and partitions, flooring, ceiling… We’ll get to work on that as soon as possible. I find his calm and steady presence and attention to the details profoundly reassuring. Without him I suspect that I would feel quite adrift in this sea of overwhelming novelty – so many things I have no experience of, and even find hard to think about without the guidance of someone who knows what he’s doing!
The windows are now nearly ready for the first floor. Michel, our stair and window man, has most generously allowed us the use of his workshop to treat and finish the windows ourselves, thereby keeping the costs down. That was our activity last weekend… They should be fitted during the coming week.
I have been wondering how the ‘house spirit’ is taking all this drastic re-shaping. It’s a simple and retiring being, not easy to sense. It strikes me that our deep trust in the process we are living through, the three of us together with the land and its ‘furniture’, is profoundly reassuring to the intangible spirit of the place. It feels as if we are clearing away the old structures that could no longer sustainably serve life here, and already I feel the presence, in essence, of the new structures that will arise in their place.
The absence of the summer kitchen brings an expansiveness to the space behind the house. It brings me a whole new awareness of the relationship between space and place, the structure of the man-made container and the flow of the living landscape. The dimension of co-creation in this adventure is becoming slowly clearer to me.
This week, Guido and the crew will start preparing the foundations for the new living space. The weather has been pretty grim, this week and last, for these kind, good-humoured men, to be working out of doors day in day out. I am profoundly grateful for their expertise and their care – the quality of their craftmanship is already present in the fabric of our home, and we will continue to feel it throughout the years to come.